It’s December, and while you’re probably taking things one holiday at a time, we’re closing in on resolution season. New year, new you, right? That’s what all these lifestyle publications would have you believe. Unfortunately, most New Year’s resolutions end in failure because people overshoot their goals, give up in the second week of the new year, then feel bad about themselves afterward.
Yay, Happy New Year!
Personally, I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions. It’s a set-up-to-fail situation. I believe in identifying one small change you can make to improve yourself without committing to a wholesale change. It can be as simple as adding more greens to your diet or going to bed 15 minutes earlier so you can get closer to that ever-elusive eight hours of sleep. Over the years, though, these small changes eventually add up to a big change that can reform your life from the inside out.
This philosophy can easily extend to marketing, particularly in the ever-evolving digital world. The nice thing about digital marketing is, just like my view of New Year’s resolutions, you don’t need to change everything overnight. (Unless, of course, you do. In which case, you’re in worse trouble than a New Year’s checklist will fix and you should contact us immediately.) You just need to start making incremental tactical changes that get you one step closer to your goal. Once you get that one tactical change accomplished and you see the results, then you can layer on a new tactic or optimize the prior one. Test, measure, iterate.
For the sake of simplicity, I’m going to assume that you have your business goals and marketing strategies outlined and in place. If you don’t have that completely done yet, that’s OK, too. Either way, this list of items will help you think through things you can improve as you round out 2018 and roll through the opening months of 2019.
Remember, keep the change(s) simple. One at a time. Don’t overwhelm yourself or set yourself up for failure.
1. Blueprint your current marketing campaign
This may not be something you’ve done before. Perhaps the magical formula is holed up in your brain somewhere. But, clearly spelling out all the assets and channels involved in a single campaign can help you identify areas for improvement and gaps in your campaigns. The exercise alone can yield enormous benefits and can be used to gain internal alignment on bigger initiatives.
2. Map the customer journey
Similar to the blueprint, but coming at it from the opposite side: Think through how your customers interact with your brand at every touchpoint, digital or analog. What are they thinking or feeling at each point? Where are they seeing gaps or letdowns in their experience? How can you use digital to enhance the customer experience?
3. Optimize the conversion rate on your site
There are some really great, easy-to-use tools out there to A/B test your site ‘til you’re blue in the face. Platforms like Google Optimize (free!), VWO, or Optimizely make it so easy to optimize your site, you’ll wonder why you were ever afraid of it. Plus, there’s nothing your boss or your boss’ boss likes better than to hear the company is getting more leads or sales without having to do more advertising. Give it a shot, you won’t regret it.
4. Experiment with a new set of paid ads
Been running the same type of ads to the same audience on the same channels with the same calls to action for too long? Track your KPIs to establish benchmarks and goals, then go on and shake it up a little. Again, don’t throw everything overboard. Just identify one area where you want to try something new. Test the CTA on your PPC ads on one product line. Place some ads on Bing. Experiment with YouTube ads. Buy display ads directly for a website that aligns well to one of your key personas.
5. Review your customer segmentation and refine it
I wish I had a dollar for every time customer segmentation was taken for granted or overlooked. Chances are, you have tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands or even millions of contacts in your database. And yet, so many segmentation strategies sound like this: “We don’t segment beyond the basics—current customers or just those who signed up for the newsletter.”
There are so many ways these days to parse data and experiment with it. You can append third-party data to your first-party data and find a million ways from Sunday to try something new. Granted, you should be strategic in your segmentation testing—understand why you’re doing something—but you can run experiments galore using segmentation, channel strategy, and creative.
For example, you could send a special Facebook offer and email to lapsed customers who make more than $100k a year, live in southern California, have children and a master’s degree, and haven’t interacted with your brand in the past 12 months. Then measure the results, figure out who clicked, hypothesize why, and then keep refining your targeting. Speaking of which…
6. Get your data in shape
This is bigger than “making one small change in the New Year,” so you’ll want to break this down into multiple small tasks that you can slowly chip away at. Heck, that can be your resolution: Just make the plan to get your data in shape. Identify all the sources and repositories of data you have, how the data flows, and then how the data itself is structured in each repository.
Some questions to ask: Is the data in a place where it is actionable from a marketing standpoint? Do you need a custom solution to connect the data sources or repositories to marketing automation software? Is the data structure consistent across repositories? Is the data clean? What are the steps you need to take to clean it up?
If you have a mess of a system and are able to make a clear plan for how to get it all working for your company or organization, that in and of itself would be a big win for 2019.
Start small, and go from there
You don’t need to fix everything all at once. You just need to find a little corner where you can start to have a positive effect on your marketing efforts. Once you do that and get a win—any win—you can go after the next win, then the next. Then you can start stacking them up, one at a time, until one day you look back and wonder how you did all that.